Britain to Give Syria Rebels Body Armor, Vehicles

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Britain will provide body armor and armored vehicles to the rebels battling forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad, Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Wednesday.

Hague said the non-lethal military aid, worth $20 million (15.4 million euros), was a "necessary, proportionate and lawful response" to a situation of "extreme" humanitarian suffering.

"The fact remains that diplomacy is taking far too long and the prospect of an immediate breakthrough is slim," he told parliament.

The announcement comes after the European Union authorized on Thursday last week the supply of non-lethal military equipment and training to the Syrian opposition.

Britain has already provided them with equipment such as power generators and communications devices worth £9.4 million ($14.2 million, 10.9 euros).

But Hague said his government was being forced to move towards "more active efforts" in a bid to end the violence.

"We will also now provide new types of non-lethal equipment for the protection of civilians, going beyond what we have given before," he said.

"It will certainly include, for instance, armored four-wheel drive vehicles to help opposition figures move around more freely, as well as personal protection equipment including body armor."

Britain will also give the rebels equipment to test for the possible use of chemical weapons by the regime, he added.

The United States last month pledged $60 million in funding for the political opposition as well as food and medical assistance, but not the weapons the rebels have asked for.

An EU arms embargo prohibits European countries from supplying weapons to the Syrian opposition, although Britain has been pushing to lift this.

Hague urged other countries to provide non-lethal help.

"We and the rest of the European Union will have to be ready to move further, and we should not rule out any option for saving lives," he said.

Hague is due to discuss the crisis with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov next week, following a meeting with Lavrov's deputy, Mikhail Bogdanov, later on Wednesday.

Comments 4
Thumb andre.jabbour 06 March 2013, 18:41

Better than nothing

Thumb fero 06 March 2013, 20:15

they are still military equipment it is not about the issue of of they are weapons or not what these are is just a way to further strecth on the conflict and to make it even harder for a diplomatic soloution to be a reality. do you think that if they get these that they will ever consider a peacful soloution, and do you really think that the regime will not retaliate. if the FSA escalate the regime will escalate simple as that. the FSA need to forget violence and allow negotiations to happen if they trully want to be a democratic country

Thumb kanaandian 06 March 2013, 20:35

Britain will be the first Islamic shariah abiding state in Europe (sharia is already part of their legal system). I hope Britain is the only state that succumbs to sharia, but there may be a couple others, but Britain for sure is wasted, as you see in the above article.

Thumb lebneneh 06 March 2013, 21:02

I wonder where you get this valuable information from...ignorance is so mainstream these days.